Renewed fighting in eastern DR of Congo threatens to destabilize country, UN envoy

Renewed fighting in eastern DR of Congo threatens to destabilize country, UN envoy

Declaring that renewed fighting in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) threatened to destabilize the entire country, the top United Nations envoy in the DRC said today that the parties were ignoring his appeals to uphold the ceasefire.

“All the Congolese should do their best to bring the parties to meet. It is regrettable that soon after foreign troops have left the DRC the Congolese have resumed war,” Amos Namanga Ngongi said at a press briefing in Kinshasa. He added that the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) could only encourage peace in the country "and not force the parties to talk to each other."

Mr. Ngongi said President Joseph Kabila had assured him that the Government did not provide any support to the Maï-Maï in the capture of the town of Uvira, and stressed that the Maï-Maï were "politically full-fledged partners" who participated in the recent inter-Congolese dialogue.

Asked whether Rwandan soldiers were still in Kisangani, the UN envoy said he had waited for a year to see evidence of that. "If anyone holds some proof, let them report to us. Why should it be so difficult?" he asked.

As for the incident on 8 October in Kisangani in which MONUC military officers were accused of shooting a student, the commander of the UN peacekeeping force, Gen. Mountaga Diallo, said while investigations were still on going, "a direct shooting with a 7.62 mm gun would have caused a more serious wound than the one on the student."

General Diallo said the process of verifying and identifying Rwandan soldiers who left the DRC was not yet completed and warned that the renewed fighting among Congolese might bring foreign troops back to the country, particular to the eastern part.

In other developments, UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie said the renewed fighting and withdrawal of Rwandan troops had resulted in significant reductions in humanitarian access, especially around Bukavu, Kindu and Uvira, where relief organizations have had to suspend activities or evacuate completely.

Ms. McAskie, who just concluded a three-day mission to the DRC before heading to Burundi, said tension in the town of Kindu had increased the number of displaced people to 11,000, while in Ituri, fighting between Hema and the Lendu ethnic groups had displaced 60,000 people in the past two months, bringing to 500,000 the total number of displaced persons in the Bunia area.